*LIGHTLY EDITED PREVIEW*
He watched Hope eat like she’d been starving. What in the hell had her husband said or done to convince her she needed to look like a bag of bones? When he’d first entered her place, he noticed she wore sweatpants and a long-sleeve shirt. He’d thought it was to possibly hide scars or bruises, but now, Abel considered the possibility that her body was unable to fight the chill in the air. And there was a chill; the AC seemed to pump out freezing air, even though the temp had fallen due to the storm outside. He’d seen the small unit above the window and planned to check it out after dinner.
Another moan escaped Hope’s lips and his dick jumped. Shit, he was not supposed to be lusting after a client. Not only was it unprofessional, but it was flat-out stupid. She was in a vulnerable state and didn’t need him eyeballing her tiny, heart-shaped lips.
Hope moaned around the last bite. “Jesus, Abel.”
Lost in his inappropriate thoughts, he could only muster a grunt in response. Abel wanted to adjust his cock, as it was uncomfortably bunched up in his jeans. Pulling his plate back, he used it to hide his erection.
Hope’s eyes popped open. “This is the best meal I’ve had in years.”
Looking at her plate, he noticed it was empty, and she looked like she wanted to lick it clean. Abel made a trip into the small kitchen area. Placing his plate on the counter, he lifted the pan of food and brought it into the living room, along with a spatula. Without asking, Abel scooped a second helping of lasagna onto her plate. To his surprise, Hope didn’t protest, but greedily started eating.
He smiled inwardly. Every woman he’d ever dated always rejected his homemade pasta dishes. One had even told him the body couldn’t differentiate between pasta, rice, or a cupcake. Abel had just served her a salad and waited for the date to be over.
While Hope ate, he walked to the door where Lex had left his bag of supplies. Abel told Hope that they would stay in Thea and Lex’s house for the two weeks that they were gone, but he soon developed a better idea. He was going to start calling in old favors. Lex was paying him well and Abel decided that renting a small place just outside of town would be feasible. To his understanding, Hope would continue to work at the clinic, though he knew this was something that placed her in danger. But Lex had conveyed this was a deal breaker for Hope. She wouldn’t agree to a bodyguard if she was forced to quit the clinic.
Abel commended her for wanting to help Thea while she was gone, but he couldn’t help but want to shake the woman and remind her about the threat Mark posed. At the same time, he wasn’t one to hide forever either. Hope’s life needed to continue, and Abel was here to make sure that happened without incident.
Pulling the equipment out of his bag, he called over his shoulder, “What’s your schedule like this week?”
“Five, twelve-hour days, then Monday and Tuesday off,” she answered.
Abel smiled when he heard the fork scraping the plate. He would have to talk to Thea about the next few days. He needed time to formulate a plan, check out the work area, and get a few guys to track Mark’s whereabouts. The last part would be hard since he didn’t work for A2 Security anymore, but he was sure he had a few favors in the bag there, too. Pulling a motion sensor from the duffel, Abel stood and headed to the door.
“Where are you going?” Hope asked the second his hand touched the doorknob.
Abel turned back to her. “I’m going to set this motion sensor up outside. You want to watch?” Her eyes darted to the window, no doubt eyeing the rain still falling. “I just need to go to the covered porch area. No need to get wet.”
“Yeah, just let me get my shoes.” Hope shoved her feet into a pair of flip-flops.
He eyed her little toes as she shoved on the flip-flops. “No, you should wear tennis shoes.”
“Why?” she asked, slipping out of the bright yellow flip-flops and donning a pair of Nikes.
Opening the door, he gestured for her to stay behind him. “Just in case you ever have to run.” He stepped out into the cool night air. Rain still fell from the sky and lightning struck somewhere off in the distance. He didn’t think they had anything to worry about, but better safe than sorry.
“Oh.” Hope wrapped her arms around herself. “Yeah, that makes sense.”
“Have you ever tried to run in wet flip-flops?” Shaking her head, she followed him out the door. “Good, because it’s damn near impossible.” Scanning the area, Abel tipped his chin to the biker perched on his bike surveying the area. It’d been a steep price to pay for one night’s service, but Abel thought it well worth it.